161: Joe Taylor/Surf Therapy

Joe Taylor photographed by Owen Tozer, August 2021.

These days, the notion of water therapy is fairly well mainstream. Think ‘blue mind’ theory, and the sheer number of Instagram account and Guardian articles extolling the virtues of cold showers and cold water swimming.

But back in 2011, when this week’s guest Joe Taylor set up The Wave Project, it was rather less well known. As you might imagine, the story of Joe’s quixotic quest to establish the Wave Project is a fascinating one, and the subject of this week’s conversation. 

Photo: Owen

First, some background: the Wave Project is a surf therapy charity which ‘uses surfing to help young people improve their emotional and physical wellbeing’. Today, they run programs in 32 locations across the UK and have used the power of surfing to transform hundreds of young lives.

It is inspirational stuff and, as I discovered during our conversation, Joe’s own tale is equally fascinating. As ever, I wanted to dig a little deeper and find out how how own relationship with the sea informed the Wave Project’s genesis and subsequent development, as well as understand exactly how harnessing the power of water in the way the Wave Project does has the power to change lives.

My thanks to my friends at Watergate Bay for hosting me for this one, and to Joe and Rachel at the Wave Project for all their help. Listen to the episode below:

Show Notes

  • Summer holidays
  • Kernow gentrification
  • The Wave Project
  • The concept of surf therapy
  • Gathering data on the project
  • Working for an MP
  • Career change
  • The initial pilot scheme
  • How the project was originally funded
  • Building on and evaluating data
  • The transformative effect of the sea
  • Autism and the sea
  • Play and adventure therapy
  • Creating a culture of support
  • What the course provides
  • Developing other projects
  • Social prescription
  • Mental health in the public eye
  • Victoria Pendleton
  • The rise of open water related projects
  • The principals of a safe space
  • Competitive sport
  • Humour and resilience
  • Societal pressure
  • Building on an emotional connection to the project
  • The night run
  • Modesty

Names Mentioned

  • Jason Statham
  • Julia Goldsworthy
  • Andrew Lansley
  • Sophie Everard
  • Victoria Pendleton
  • Simone Biles
  • Naomi Osaka

Places Mentioned

  • Wales
  • Snowdonia National Park
  • Pembrokeshire
  • Newquay
  • Croyde
  • Cornwall
  • Truro
  • Mawgan Porth
  • Camborne
  • Redruth
  • Netherlands
  • Africa

Companies, Brands, Organisations Mentioned

  • The Wave Project
  • Watergate Bay
  • Blue Mind
  • NHS
  • The Liberal Democrat Party
  • The Conservative Party
  • The Daily Mail
  • BBC Children in Need
  • The National Lottery
  • The Mental Health and Social Inclusion Journal
  • Burton Snowboards
  • Skateistan
  • Snowcamp
  • The Chill Foundation
  • The Wave Bristol

Films and Books Mentioned